LAST week, I asked my daughter Skye, soon to be 10 years old, a question to which I had no answer: “What is the solution to all the terrible things humans are doing in the world?”

She looked up from her Roblox game and said: “It’s obvious, dad.”

I stood with outstretched arms, waiting for her wisdom.

“Ask the faeries to turn everyone into three-year-olds. That’d do it.”

I stood there thinking, aye, that would indeed do it, if such a thing was possible. She continued to explain.

“I know it wouldn’t be all good. They’d stay up too late and have a bad diet, eating sweets for dinner, picking their noses without anyone telling them not to. And I know they’d fall out and argue, maybe even fight sometimes. But the arguments would be about who gets the last slice of a chocolate cake or whose turn it is to be on the slide, stuff like that. And three-year-olds make up as quickly as they fall out, so the arguments wouldn’t last long anyway.

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“But no matter how much they fell out, they wouldn’t hate each other because of the colour of their skin, or their religion, or their language or where they came from, or for any of the other reasons grown-ups hate each other. They wouldn’t try to deliberately kill each other. That’s a grown-up thing. They must be taught all that as they grow up themselves.

“Three-year-olds just want to have fun, play and explore. The tanks grown-ups use to kill each other would instead be places to play hide and seek, they’d roll conkers down the barrels of the guns, they’d climb trees and make dens instead of destroying the forests.

“So that’s the solution, dad. Maybe if everyone was a three-year-old, even for just a short time, when they turned back to being a grown-up they’d remember how it could be and just change.”

Skye was finished and returned to her Roblox game.

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I stood as if hit by a train. Three days from being 10 and she comes out with this.

“You’re right, Skye,” I tell her, “I just wish it was possible.”

She looked up from her game again and rolled her eyes.

“It is possible dad.”


“Well, if the faeries can’t do it, grown-ups can. You just need to ask yourself how many three-year-olds are out there already, eh? Happily, there are still lots of grown-ups who can teach them something different. You know, kindness, being the better person, helping people. I know lots of grown-ups like that, and it’s like a seed that grows when you teach a three-year-old that. That’s how we stop the hate in the world, we tell the three-year-olds good stuff, good stories. And that’s your responsibility too, dad, as a storyteller. No pressure, though.”

She chuckled and returned to her game.

I had a storytelling event later that day. It was a lovely time, with parents and their children being the audience, including lots of three-year-olds. I told many stories, about love, acceptance and about not giving up; about working together for a better future, about being kind, both to others and yourself. I told stories about trees and nature, about how the world could be, and during every story, I had my daughter’s words ringing in my ears: “It’s your responsibility.”

Yes, it is, and I accepted that, not just as a storyteller, but also as a parent.

As I write, Skye will be 10 in just a few days. I hope, as she becomes a grown-up, the world us grown-ups have created doesn’t change who she is or her core values.

Soon my influence will become less and less, and the influence of others will dominate. That’s the way of things, I know that. The truth is there is more good out there than bad, it’s just not so newsworthy. I hope she finds that out herself.

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All I can do is lay foundations in the hope she can stand on them when she’s a grown-up. That’s all any parent can do really. The world may not be full of three-year-olds but it is full of people who were once three-year-olds. What we teach them before they become grown-ups is all our responsibility.

So, Skye was right, that’s where the solution lies.

It’s taken years to seed the hate and it will take years to weed it out. But we can all contribute. Soon, today’s three-year-olds will be grown-ups. Let’s all try our best to break the cycle and help make this world look like a place ruled by three-year-olds.